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HTX-Factor: Robotic Force Multiplier
How the new Home Team S&T agency will help our officers strengthen their capabilities and keep Singapore safe.

With the passage of the Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill in Parliament on 6 August, a dedicated agency named HTX will be established to develop and share Science and Technology (S&T) capabilities across the Home Team. 

Home Team News HTX Lee Guoming 01
Guoming is committed to using robotics, automation and unmanned systems to enhance Singapore’s security and allow manpower to be optimised for critical functions. PHOTO: Jade Tan

Among the officers who are part of this landmark change is Lee Guoming, Senior Assistant Director (Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems), Science and Technology Group, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). We caught up with his team as they prepped their latest robotics project for National Day duties. 

In the Shadows
It’s a blindingly bright Thursday afternoon at the Float @ Marina Bay, and tourists are enjoying the sights along the Esplanade. But under the grandstand, a team of engineers is putting the finishing touches on two robots sporting the distinctive chevrons of the Singapore Police Force. Meet MATAR (Multipurpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robot). 

Unveiled in 2018, MATAR is a wheeled robotic platform that features video analytics capabilities and which can conduct patrols autonomously and detect audio anomalies. The latest version of MATAR even houses an unmanned aerial vehicle. “Robots such as MATAR are an increasingly important force multiplier,” explains Guoming. “Not only do they allow us to project greater presence on the ground, they're also not susceptible to fatigue or human error.”

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Same platform, different payloads: Wheeled robots like MATAR can be employed by Home Team Departments according to specific mission requirements. PHOTOS: Cheryl Soh

“In the past, the equipment used by the different Home Team Departments was fairly independent,” explains Guoming. “For example, the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s lifesaving and firefighting equipment were unique to it. But now, we’re starting to leverage the same S&T platforms and frameworks for different Home Team users.” 

Greater Synergy
A Mechanical Engineer by training, Guoming joined MHA in 2012 because he wanted a career with a sense of purpose. “As an engineer, I want to help our officers solve the issues they face on the ground,” he says. “I’ve had a great sense of job satisfaction since Day One!” 

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MATAR gets ready for National Day duties. GIF: Jade Tan

Given the Home Team's unique operational context, Guoming often has to look beyond off-the-shelf solutions. Among the projects that he has worked on is a biometrics-based inmate registration system for the Singapore Prison Service and a digital diary for Central Narcotics Bureau investigators. 

According to Guoming, HTX will allow for a more integrated and comprehensive approach to keeping Singapore safe. “As security threats evolve, the way we do things must also change,” he says. “A dedicated S&T agency will allow us to synergise our efforts and help Home Team officers work more effectively.”

Ready to Roll 
Under the grandstand, Guoming and his colleagues completed their checks and directed the MATAR platforms out to the Float @ Marina Bay where they drew curious stares from bystanders. As MATAR began its patrol, Guoming reflected on how the project had brought together various S&T domains, for one purpose – keeping Singapore safe and secure. 

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S&T synergies: As part of HTX, Guoming will have the opportunity to collaborate more closely with fellow engineers and scientists. PHOTOS: Cheryl Soh

“The solutions we develop for the Home Team often have many different components,” he explains. “For example, our robotic systems may also employ video analytics, data analytics and artificial intelligence. So even though we may specialise in certain S&T domains, we also get to interact with and learn from like-minded engineers and scientists!” 


HTX: The Home Team Science and Technology Agency
The Home Team Science and Technology Agency Bill was passed in Parliament on 6 August 2019. Read the Second Reading Speech and Wrap-up Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs.
 
The Home Team’s S&T capabilities reflect our unique operational context and mission requirements. To learn more about these capabilities, check out:
- HTX-Factor: CSI, SG Style 
- Science and Tech in the Home Team
- Other S&T articles

  1. by Mike Tan
  2. 07 August 2019
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